Red wine vinaigrette adds flavor to salads and appetizers and works as a sauce on meat and other main dishes. However, red wine vinaigrette can be runny and thin, because its main components are simply oil and red wine vinegar with various seasonings or herbs. If the dish or salad calls for a thickened red wine vinaigrette, several techniques can give it depth and help it cling to foods.
Thicken red wine vinaigrette by cooking it down in a process called reduction. Cooking the vinaigrette in a saucepan over medium heat evaporates some of the water in the mixture, thickening it. Simmer the vinaigrette, stirring frequently until the mixture reduces in volume and thickens to the desired amount. Use the reduction for sauces and stews that contain red wine vinaigrette, or chill the reduction sauce and dress a salad with it.
Another way to thicken red wine vinaigrette is to add a thickener to the compound, such as arrowroot or cornstarch. Because these starches can thicken sauces while keeping them clear and glossy, they work well for red wine vinaigrette, which should maintain a translucent appearance. Avoid using flour as a thickener, because it turns the sauce or dressing cloudy or even opaque. To mix arrowroot or cornstarch into the vinaigrette, create a slurry. Mix a small amount of the thickener with a small amount of cold water in a container with a lid. Shake until well combined. Although the acidity in vinegar may reduce some of cornstarch's thickening ability, adding it in a slurry after any heating still gives the vinaigrette some body.
Because red wine vinaigrette contains oil, a fat, whipping it with a whisk or hand mixer emulsifies the fat and vinegar into a slightly thicker compound. Blend the mixture on low speed until frothy and slightly thickened. Although this method won't last as long as thickening through reduction or added thickeners, it presents a slightly thicker vinaigrette for the short term and helps it cling to salads or the plate.
Adding thicker ingredients helps thicken red wine vinaigrette. For a dressing or sauce, add a dollop of sour cream, mayonnaise or mustard and then blend well. For a sweeter taste, try adding jam or chutney. For a creamy vinaigrette, add heavy cream and mix with a hand mixer to thicken. Emulsify the additional condiment completely into the mixture, and serve immediately without heating.
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